An Omnivore Goes Vegan for a Week

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Food Shopping

I knew I wanted to cook a few recipes at home that week so I was excited to hit the grocery store to get what I needed. That said, I made some classic rookie mistakes.

While a few of my ingredients were diet-specific or specialty items compared to average grocery fair, the majority was not. It turns out that even items like almond milk and tofu that were new to me are stocked at most grocery stores for reasonable prices. You don’t need to buy all your groceries at the same place, so don’t feel compelled to drop extra cash unless you want to.

Next tip: pace yourself. This will ring especially true if you are simply trying the diet on to see if it fits. Restocking your entire fridge with every meatless alternative you can think of would be expensive and is unnecessary. Pick a couple recipes for the week – plan for those, learn, repeat.

Photo: Earth911

While you’re learning and accumulating supplies, also try to pick recipes that have a few overlapping ingredients. This is especially helpful to remember as you buy fresh ingredients, so they get used up that week and never wasted.

Last, there is a pretty incredible variety of alternative meat and dairy products out there, as well as some staples in vegetarian cuisine that aren’t too well known. With the assistance of my work team, I was armed with some basics and have shared them below:

  • Tofu: A celebrity among meat alternatives, tofu is a soy product. To prepare it yourself, make sure you know the firmness you want to buy, and for best results, it is highly recommended that you press your tofu prior to cooking.
  • Daiya: Dairy-free cheese that is sold shredded or by the wedge.
  • Tempeh: Touted as an alternative to tofu, this is a high protein, soy-based product that can be prepared a variety of ways.
  • Seitan: Pronounced “say-tan”, this is also an alternative protein source, but is a gluten-based product and can take on the textures and flavors of meat better than other meatless alternatives.
  • Quinoa: A seed product that behaves like a grain and prepared like rice or barley. It’s a popular super-food in vegetarian diets as it is full of amino acids and is cholesterol- and gluten-free.
  • Nutritional Yeast: While not outwardly appetizing, this deactivated yeast product is sold in flake form and is popular for its similarity to cheese. Great for recipes, or to sprinkle on the likes of garlic bread or popcorn- not to mention an excellent source of B12.
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